Fire Emblem Engage Review

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Written By Antoine Clerc-Renaud

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What is Fire Emblem Engage?

Nintendo’s Fire Emblem: Three Houses game was a critical and financial success. Although the fighting wasn’t significantly changed, the ambitious multi-campaign concept really hit the ground running. It made perfect sense for Nintendo and the game’s creator Intelligent Systems to capitalise on Three Houses’ popularity. Although Fire Emblem Engage adds to the series’ rich and satisfying tactical combat, the predictable plot and tiresome side activities feel like a step backward for the venerable franchise. Let’s see what this is all about in our Fire Emblem Engage Review.

Unlike the calendar-based advancement of Three Houses, the framework of Fire Emblem Engage is more conventional. The tactical turn-based fighting that the franchise is known for takes up most of your time, but there is also a hub-like area where you may talk to other characters and upgrade your units with gear. The tale follows a linear pattern as you navigate the world, even though you always have a variety of assignments at your disposal. There are no significant plot choices, and everyone will hire the same characters at the same time, with the exception of a few characters discovered in the optional paralogue chapters.

Fire Emblem Engage Story

There is nothing inherently wrong with this conventional arrangement. This narrative format is featured in some of the series’ best games, and Engage’s presentation and story are more refined because of its careful creation. However, this strategy also draws more attention to the narrative; regrettably, the increased polish is unable to cover up the plot’s predictability and general lacklusterness.

It is your duty to defend the planet against the Fell Dragon while playing as Alear, a son or daughter of the Divine Dragon. Although there are occasional bends and twists along the road, they rarely feel like significant breakthroughs. The premise is basic JRPG stuff. The evil purple dragon and its minions are the bad guys, while you and your team are the good guys.

Even though it wasn’t perfect, Three Houses’ strategy of pitting various houses against one another and making you make some significant choices along the road was ambitious and promoted personal investment. On the other hand, the narrative of Engage feels safe and conventional, making it simple to lose interest in it.

You’ll encounter a diverse group of people and see some exciting locations that serve as battlegrounds as you tour the globe. With the exception of a few crucial individuals that are essential to the plot, the script rarely gives you time to get to know or appreciate its enormous ensemble of characters because the stakes are already high.

Early on, characters are presented in quick succession, and after a few bouts, I completely forgot about some of them. The majority of the characterization takes place in the optional support sequences, however due to the roster’s initial size, several characters inevitably went by the wayside and were consequently too underleveled to effectively use them.

Fire Emblem Gameplay

The skewed social dynamics at work have a technical effect in that, early on, a bigger body count may counter certain losses you would sustain in Fire Emblem’s permadeath game, Classic mode. You won’t lose any units on Classic mode, either, since Engage is rather forgiving on the Normal and Hard modes. Whatever level of difficulty you select, there is a system that lets you go back in time and fix any errors you made. The Hard and Maddening settings cap the number of rewinds at 10, whereas the Normal difficulty grants you an unlimited number.

Regardless of the difficulty and mode you select, Fire Emblem Engage is a well-balanced experience despite its forgiving nature. The difficulty settings in Fire Emblem Engage are Normal, Hard, Maddening, and Easy. Normal provides a fair challenge for players who may not want to use every system the game has to offer, Hard delivers a challenging experience that necessitates tactical planning and some outside-of-battle preparation, and Easy demands strategic prowess and full investment in all of Fire Emblem Engage’s various systems. A Maddening playthrough that I’m currently halfway through is terrifying. Even though the odds first seem insurmountable, with the appropriate planning, you can finally prevail.

How is the combat in Fire Emblem Engage?

The actual combat is more intense than ever. The classic rock-paper-scissors weapon triangle—swords beat axes, axes beat spears, and spears beat swords—as well as the tactical tile-based skirmishes are both back. The weapon triangle has been a fixture of the mainline series since Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War in 1996, with the exception of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Engage makes various adjustments to the formula.

In addition to doing more damage, weapon advantages in Engage also result in a break effect. A defensive unit that suffers a break from an attacking unit lowers their weapon and is unable to launch a counterattack for the remainder of the skirmish and for one subsequent skirmish that turn.

A well-balanced team is essential since the break mechanic increases the danger and reward of the weapon triangle by providing different weapon types particular functions and use-cases. You can successfully foil your opponent’s complete counterattack with the right coordination, protecting your units until the enemy’s turn.

Naturally, if you’re not careful, your adversaries may also use the weapon triangle to their advantage and destroy your units. On Normal difficulty, it might temporarily put you at a disadvantage, but on Hard or Maddening, it might mean the difference between life and death. It takes deft positioning, a balanced team, and well-equipped units that can quickly cover up possible weaknesses to fully utilise the weapon triangle.

Fire Emblem Engage Review: The Lord of the Rings

Flame Emblem The Engage feature is the mechanic that gets the most attention. You will come across Emblem Rings that contain the ghosts of former Fire Emblem heroes as you progress through Engage’s narrative. Emblem Ring-equipped troops can combine with the Fire Emblem hero inside of them for three rounds to use special talents and weapons in addition to stat boosts. For instance, a unit controlled by Sigurd, the blue-haired hero from Genealogy of the Holy War, can employ the Override skill, which allows it to assault numerous troops simultaneously.

Additionally, Sigurd’s ring grants the wearer the ability to travel an additional few squares after striking, enabling you to make place for a second unit to pursue. In contrast, Lucina has a flashy ability called All For One that enables all allies within two spaces to engage in a potent chain attack. With the right timing, All For One can deal some of the most difficult adversaries in the game a fatal blow. There are a total of 12 rings, and each one stands for a particular Fire Emblem main series game.

These Emblem Rings form the bulk of Fire Emblem Engage’s depth. An Emblem Ring can be used by any unit, and as a unit engages in combat with an Emblem, their link grows stronger. Characters can acquire new talents and permanent stat bonuses by strengthening their link with an emblem, which can be done by spending skill points.

There is nothing stopping you from handing an Emblem Ring to any of your units, even though some Emblem abilities and skills compliment certain classes. There are countless combinations, and discovering both the ideal couple and an unusual match can be satisfying.

But choosing which unit should receive which Emblem Ring is crucial, not only for the tactical benefit but also because maxing out the link between an Emblem and a unit can be time-consuming. If you give an Emblem Ring to a character who is unable to completely harness its inherited skills, you risk wasting your time since it may take a dozen battles to fully maximise an Emblem’s link with that particular character.

Draconian Choices With Heavy Consequences

Bond Fragments, which may also be used to create and meld stat-buffing Bond Rings, are needed in order to speed up the bonding process. If an inherited skill overlaps with another, the Central Pedestal, where you can manage all of your rings, will let you know. It does not, however, specify who or which classes would profit most from a given Emblem Ring. It’s up to you to detect that and locate a unit who might benefit more from that Emblem Ring in cases where the plot introduces a new unit with an Emblem Ring that isn’t all that useful for them to use.

Inexperienced players who may not be familiar with all of Fire Emblem’s stats may find managing Emblem Rings to be intimidating, but once you’ve assembled a crew that makes the most of all 12 Emblem Rings, the fight becomes a joy to play. The special skills provide you an advantage that grows as you decimate the enemy’s numbers, especially when paired with the ideal troop.

Additionally, having a balanced team with distinct Emblem Rings helps you plan your strategy from the start and gives you the flexibility to change course if necessary in the heat of battle. Furthermore, none of the Emblems feel overpowered as a result of this. As a result, the battle stays engaging throughout the game’s extensive length.

Even while the Emblems innovate and add a lot of subtlety to combat, they are all one-dimensional personalities outside the field of fight. The Emblems, other from Marth, don’t significantly advance the story as a whole. When you initially meet them, they may occasionally appear in a cutscene to say a line or two, but after that, they are limited to hurried, soulless bond chats and paralogues that serve as simple loyalty tasks.

What are Paralogues?

Each of the Emblem Rings has a paralogue, and they are all built out in essentially the same way. You arrive at a location that resembles the Emblem’s home world, it demands that you prove your mettle in battle, and you engage in combat. The preparations for these paralogues are never intriguing, even though some of the confrontations themselves are.

These missions may have been the ideal chance to return and develop beloved characters like Lucina and Lyn, or to offer the player characters from previous games, like Corrin and Byleth, more personality. I had at least hoped that Engage would serve as a decent introduction to people like Sigurd and Leif who never made it to the West, but that didn’t happen.

Although Fire Emblem Engage appears to be an effort to capitalise on the series’ extensive history and large cast of renowned characters, the Emblem characters are paper-thin aside from a few smart battle mechanics that allude to the earlier games. Some of them also serve as a sombre reminder that a significant amount of Fire Emblem’s past is still inaccessible to Westerners.

The cast outside of the Emblem Rings, fortunately, is strong. Similar to earlier games, the majority of the characterization is accomplished through brief scenes known as support chats. When a character’s internal or external problems are explored, they can be amusing, odd, and occasionally deep. Although not all of them are great and some too closely adhere to standard JRPG cliches, for the most part it’s a delight to see these characters interact with one another.

Prince Alcryst, who has grown up in his brother’s shadow, is one of the novel’s highlights in my opinion. Alcryst’s support talks frequently centre on his unconventional methods for overcoming his inferiority complex. In one scene, a party-loving friend extends an invitation to a gathering where Alcryst can let loose and uncover a side of himself he was unaware of.

It was enjoyable to witness Alcryst gain self-assurance as I transformed him into a cold-blooded archer on the battlefield. By the conclusion, I had the impression that Alcryst’s personality outside of battle reflected the one I had shaped him into. Although not every character has an arc as Alcryst does, each one has a unique personality that keeps support talks amusing and interesting. Even while some of these situations can be awkward, they typically provide just enough context for you to care about the characters in conflict.

Fire Emblem Engage Base And Hub

The Somniel, your base above the clouds, is where the majority of these discussions take place. Here, you can interact with your pals, go fishing, take care of livestock, buy and upgrade new weapons, feed the Somniel’s spirit animal Sommie, give money to one of the various kingdoms, engage in friendly unit combat in the arena, and, of course, maintain your Emblem Rings. You’re urged to visit the Somniel frequently to make the most of your time because the majority of these activities restart after each combat. Unfortunately, these activities quickly begin to feel like busy work.

Running around the Somniel collecting resources and engaging in these activities are not enjoyable, even though support talks are typically wonderful and adjusting your units’ loadouts can be satisfying. The worst of the lot is a minigame where you have to polish Emblem Rings as the Emblem hero clumsily commends or criticises your job.

Of course, you can ignore all of these tasks and concentrate only on the combat, but doing so could significantly disadvantage you, especially on more challenging levels. Whether you like it or not, you’ll need to go back to the Somniel after every battle to keep your comrades in good condition and to bring in a regular flow of resources.

The Tower of Trials is the Somniel’s most significant side activity. For player vs player and asynchronous co-op gaming types, you can connect with other players here. You compete in Relay Trials against an AI-controlled squad while exchanging turns with other players. Everyone who participated in the experiment will be given awards once it is over.

It’s a cool concept that lets you experiment with player-made character builds, but it’s not as exciting as a typical battle. A lot of the tactical choices are made for you because you might join in the middle of a battle with an unfamiliar squad. It feels contrary to the fundamental principles of Fire Emblem to lose an ally or an entire fight because of the bad choices made by another player.

Outrealm Trials, an asynchronous PvP game, lets you or an opponent design a map and challenge that other players can accept. The battlefield can be populated by the designer’s choice of units, mounted weapons, and obstacles. When the level is finished, it can be sent to both friends and complete strangers. Again, it’s a clever notion, but these trials don’t appear to have any real balancing or level scaling.

I joined a random battle where the other team’s units were so low level that I could one-hit every single one of them. Sharing trials with friends who are of similar talent levels appeals to me, but jumping into random games without better skill-based or balance considerations seems unfair. It’s important to note that I played Outrealm Trials during a pre-release period, and if the game is accessible to a larger public, a more equitable matchmaking mechanism might be in place.

Visually Engaging – How Fire Emblem Engage Is A Technical Marvel

The most unexpected aspect of Engage is its presentation. When compared to Three Houses, Engage is a definite improvement. The pre-rendered cutscenes are stunning, the character models have thick, defined edges, and the battlefields are more intricate.

Going into the technical aspects of it, the game certainly appears to be much better quality-wise. Additionally, Engage put clear effort into developing their art direction, giving each character impressive degrees of detail in regards to their clothing and accessories – really capturing who they are as a person.

Diamont, the noble prince of Brodia, sports a diadem and ponderous armour adorned with red trimmings to complement his nation’s shades, while Jean, the juvenile medic, lugs a sack full of vials as well as an apothecary jar. Notwithstanding that Engage overpopulates the game with an exorbitant amount of characters, all of them appear graphically peculiar.

Along with the colourful roster of characters, the spectacular battle animations complement one another perfectly. In the second half of the game, you’re more inclined to ignore the typical fight animations, but I still found myself watching all of the grandiose Emblem strikes. It’s satisfying to see an enemy’s health bar decrease after you fire a powerful multi-hit attack.

The outstanding score, though, truly drives home the superb presentation. The grand orchestral overtures enhance tense battle scenes and save some of the plot’s least interesting parts. Thankfully, the Somniel allows you to replay any song from your bedroom, including a few songs from earlier entries.

While Fire Emblem’s battle system is at its best ever, Engage’s plot and organizational scheme fall short of the ambition of its forerunners. The outcome is a predictable and simple romp that is propelled by its excellent graphics and exciting fighting.

The heroes enclosed within the Emblem Rings, while giving the combat a rich and rewarding twist, are one-dimensional ghosts that lack much depth. It will undoubtedly satisfy your craving for a complex tactical role-playing game with a cast of interesting characters. Beyond that, Fire Emblem Engage comes across as a simple, safe instalment in Nintendo’s venerable franchise.

Fire Emblem: Fantastic combat in Fire Emblem Engage is hindered by a lacklustre narrative that lacks the ambition of recent entries. ACR

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